North Carolina running back Michael Carter could be intriguing Day 3 option – The Denver Post

One of the best parts of North Carolina games in recent seasons has been watching running back Michael Carter get handed the football and counting the missed tackles.

Some were routine. A defensive lineman or linebacker squaring him up in the gap only to be left grasping at air.

Others were more impressive. A safety met meeting him at the second level but unable to stop Carter with a full head of steam.

Then there were the rare runs, such as the one he made during the third quarter of a game against Notre Dame last November.

Carter got a hand-off and took four steps to the right before cutting upfield and making the Fighting Irish look silly. He zoomed past a defensive tackle and linebacker, made a jump-cut eight yards downfield to elude an oncoming safety and carried another linebacker for three additional yards.

The linebacker who got taken for a ride and needed help from a teammate to tackle Carter? Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who is expected to be a first-round pick in Thursday’s NFL draft.

Carter had longer runs, splashier plays and more important moments last season on his way to finishing fourth in the FBS with 1,245 rushing yards. But the blend of speed, vision and power he displayed on that 16-yard carry should interest the Broncos enough to consider drafting him.

In a perfect world, Broncos general manager George Paton could address more pressing needs in the first three rounds (cornerback-edge rusher-offensive tackle?) and select Carter with a fourth-round pick (No. 114). Adding him to a running back room that includes starter Melvin Gordon and reserves Royce Freeman and Mike Boone would continue an offensive makeover that began with last year’s draft.

Carter’s talent is as intriguing as his path to becoming one of this draft’s best running backs. He and teammate Javonte Williams, a projected second-round pick, split carries the last three seasons. Now they are trying to become the latest set of running backs from the same program to be selected in the top four rounds of the same draft. Other recent examples include Alabama’s Josh Jacobs (first) and Damien Harris (third) in 2019, Memphis’ Darrell Henderson (third) and Tony Pollard (fourth) in 2019, Georgia’s Sony Michel (first) and Nick Chubb (second) in 2018 and Alabama’s Derrick Henry (second) and Kenyan Drake (third) in 2016.

The Williams-Carter timeshare was ideal for the Tar Heels offense, but has its pros and cons for their draft stock.

Pro: Each player was fresh throughout the season. Carter never had more than 177 carries in a season and totaled 514 carries in four seasons. Less tread on his tires could lead an NFL team to believe his best is still to come. Plus, his efficiency (at least 5.7 yards per carry in every season, topped by 8.0 yards per carry in 2020) was superb.